"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Monday, January 30, 2012

Burrata Stuffed Fried Zucchini Flowers with Pesto Dip

You never ask someone what his or her favorite food is and receive the response "zucchinis." Maybe it's their similarity to their somewhat boring cousin, the cucumber, or it could be their slight lack of original flavor...Zucchinis, however, are pros at taking on the flavors of whatever spices and feelings their cooked with. If a zucchini was a person, it would be that chap at the party who is a little bit quiet, wearing a gray t-shirt - but has a super cool secret skill, like a great artist with a sketchbook that shows experience and experimentation. You can experiment with zucchinis, and from experience you know they can actually add a wonderful texture and taste to pizzas, pastas, breads, soups, antipastos.  I was introduced to the beautiful zucchini blossoms while working at Cefalicchio - a central appetizer was fried zucchini flowers. Then, for my friend, Maxine's birthday, I made these seasonal fried zucchini flowers. I was making dinner for my mom and sister and wanted to have them experience this wild and crazy half sister dish of the zucchinis. Because my mom grows her own basil, I make pesto over there with just about everything. Turns out pesto is a lovely dip for the fried zucchini flowers, but a little bit goes a long way.
 When handling the zucchini blossoms, you have to be very gentle. They are delicate, sensitive, and very shy....with time, it gets easier to handle them. 
 Fried Zucchini Flowers with Pesto Dip

Zucchini flowers
Burrata (Since it is very difficult impossible to find the real burrata out here - you can find a pretty good kind at Trader Joe's or the Cow Girl Creamery.)
Whole wheat flour
Tonic Water
Kosher salt
Vegetable Oil

1. Gently wash the zucchini blossoms and let them dry
2. Very carefully, spread the petals to remove their seeds and stem, making them hollow on the inside
3. Fill the inside of the zucchini blossom with burrata, just enough to plump it up but not too much so that you can still close the blossom and wrap the petals around one another to seal it shut.
4. In a bowl mix together whole wheat flour, a pinch of salt and just enough Tonic water to make the mixture a thick batter consistency.
5. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a skillet. To test if oil is hot enough you can drop a pink nail of batter. The batter should sizzle up and rise to the top.
6. Dredge the stuffed blossoms in the batter and gently lay them into the hot oil.
7. When you see edges turn golden brown, flip over.
8. After about 1-2 minutes on the second side, remove and set on a paper towel.
9. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve warm.
 Now, what to do with the actual zucchinis? Slice and saute with garlic, salt and pepper, and sliced mushrooms and add to a pizza!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Restraurant Review: Fish.

Fish is hands down one of my top 5 Bay Area restaurants. A hidden hot spot at the end of a Sausalito harbor, the Fish Restaurant brings sustainable seafood to the masses all while supporting local fishermen, serving the best fish and chips west of the Mississippi, jamming to live music and... because we are in California, Fish makes some of the best guacamole and homemade chips I've had. After placing your order at the counter, you can join other excited eaters at communal wooden tables and benches perched on a large, outdoor porch with a constant sea breeze. The real attraction though isn't the peaceful view of sail boats, it's the freshest local fish made into unique daily specials. It's the large servings, fresh greens, chunky guacamole, the Winter Ceviche and the classic Po'Boy sandwich on San Francisco sourdough. It's the Tiburon Blonde served in a mason jar accompanying perfectly seasoned garlic bread. Expect a line of hungry people in windbreakers and hats:
Root beer float anyone? This is how it's done:
No trip to Fish is complete without ordering the chips and guacamole appetizer, which complements everything on the menu. Try saving this for the rest of your meal (they bring the dishes as they are ready) but a piece of fried fish tastes like heaven with some guac:
Feeling chilly? Warm up with a nice bowl of their minestrone (the e is silent BTW!) soup served with long shavings of Parmesan:
Below is The Crab Roll: a West Coast rendition of an East Coast favorite. Sweet Dungeness crab served on a toasted Torpedo roll with organic butter and chives and a heaping mound of shoestring fries and a pickle slice:
Below is Fish's fresh Alaskan Halibut fried fish, battered served with wedge potato chips and homemade tartar sauce. A jar of Anchor Stream beer, shining in the background like a sexy drummer to a rock band.
Next is Fish's Saigon salmon sandwich - grilled and marinated wild salmon served with a blend of fresh carrot, jalapeno, cilantro and a house made Vietnamese scallion ginger sauce all served on a toasted Acme torpedo roll. YUM.
A view of the outside porch:
Go for the food, stay for the friendly locals, laid back atmosphere and gorgeous sunsets.

Fish Restaurant
350 Harbor Drive
Sausalito, California